Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Way To Remember...





This past Monday was the Mexican holiday "Dia de los Muertos," a day for the living to celebrate their  family members and friends who have died.

I've been fascinated by this alternative cultural attitude to those that have passed since my first visit to New Mexico where I visited a cemetery on the outskirts of Taos some 8 years ago with my good friend Gioia.

It was the day after the celebration but  all the graves still had their decorations,  strings of marigolds, fruit, candles, bread, bright colored plastic flowers... and other offerings...

  Instead of feeling the usual sense of forebode when I saw the graves, I felt a deep sense of exhilaration and joy..., at what seemed to be such a wonderful idea - Once a year, paying respect and celebrating the lives of relatives and friends who were once with us.  I was struck by what a healthy attitude this was to  deceased, loved ones,  and how uncomfortable and unsatisfying my own limited, stiff and morose beliefs were...

I remembered how I felt after my parents both died, I felt a great yearning to honor them, wether it was denial or not, I don't know, but I had a very hard time letting them go...   At one point I'd wanted to create a shrine in my flower garden to them both... with photos, candles??? I wasn't sure, I worried what people might think, I worried that whatever it was I was trying to conjure up wouldn't be right, and might in someway be offensive to some, they might think I was crazy!  - Yes, it was a confusing time and I never built the shrine...   I wish I could have whispered in my ear 11 years ago... "Its ok, do what you feel is right,,, it will be perfect, its a good thing to do, you will have a place to go be with them, whenever you need to talk/pray.."

Fast forward 11 years, and here I am making my first shrine/alter to celebrate 2 people I loved so very much.  I started to worry that I was doing it wrong, then I realized that my internal  critic/negative non-creator nellie was about to have her way with me again and so I and laughed at myself (and her,) and grabbed a scarf, lit a candle, found a couple of photo's and some other personal items that are imbibed with spiritual meaning to me... and there...was my sacred place to honor and celebrate my parents.  As soon as I lit the candle the room felt different and a quietness descended upon me... I think they loved their shrine..,and I felt their love and their presence...


I'm already planning how I want to celebrate next year...

Better late than never....

HAPPY DIA DEL LOS MUERTOS!!!





2 comments:

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Very interesting post, Neinah.

Having grown up with a cemetery practically in our backyard, I have never been afraid of cemeteries. As a matter of fact, we used to picnic on one grave in particular. I always like to think that the person would have smiled to have children playing about their resting place and enjoying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, and Koolaid. Possibly it was a grandmother who had loved her own children so much in her lifetime. Oddly, the stone wasn't marked with a name. Quite possibly it had a plaque that had fallen prey to vandals or to time.

It's nice to celebrate the lives of those we love, whether they are gone or still with us. I guess, for me, I like to think of my parents and other loved ones in the perpetual light of Heaven on a picnic of their own, ahead and waiting for me. Home, now, is ahead, not to say I don't love my home with Mr. Magpie in the here and now, but the home I look forward to seeing most is ahead.

XO,

Sheila :-)

Dianne said...

I love that someone else in my community marks "Dia de los Muertos" with thanksgiving and celebration and writes about it in her blog ;~)